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Iraqi Freedom Operation

In March 2003, the Bush Administration declared the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which was an intensive US-led military operation whose main goal was to topple the Saddam Regime and subsequently bring positive economic and political change in Iraq. The invasion was the culmination of decades of bad relations between the US government and Saddam’s Ba’ath regime. In the post 9/11 era, the US had a strong global “War on Terror” policy. The Bush Administration decided to target Iraq since Saddam was believed to hold a cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction that could be used against the US and its allies.

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However, the legitimacy or need for the invasion was controversial. To begin with, the United Nations did not officially authorize this invasion. As such, the international community saw the invasion as an illegal foreign military intervention. The Iraqi people also failed to view the US as liberators and instead, majority of them considered them foreign occupiers. This paper will argue that the US should never have engaged in Operation Iraqi Freedom since this war was illegal and it has led to many adverse effects for the Iraqi people.

Arguably the most important argument against Operation Iraqi Freedom is that it had no legal justifications. This attack on another state was a violation of international laws. The key justification offered by the US turned out to be false. When the Bush Administration was presenting its reasons for wanting to invade Iraq, the destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was a primary reason (Palka, Galgano and Corson 380). The belief that Iraq posed a security threat through its alleged stockpile of WMDs led to the US targeting the country in a full-scale military invasion.

However, it later transpired that Iraq did not have any WMDs and the US had known this before the invasion. Fisher and Biggar reveal that the US intelligence community did not have any credible information supporting the claim that Iraq had any WMDs or that Saddam intended to use the weapons against US (688). Operation Iraqi Freedom was therefore an illegal war that amounted to a violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign state.

While Operation Iraqi Freedom sought to end sanctions and deliver humanitarian relief to Iraqi citizens, it ended up creating a humanitarian crisis in the country as peace and stability were destroyed. Under Saddam’s regime, Iraqis enjoyed relative prosperity and the welfare of the people was to some extent taken care of by the state. Saddam had nationalized the nation’s vast oil resources and the revenue from this oil was used to improve the livelihood of Iraqis.

The state provided basic social amenities for the general population and the country’s infrastructure was remarkable. Palka et al. admit that Saddam’s regime succeeded in creating a well-developed infrastructure in Iraq (392). Operation Iraqi Freedom led to the collapse of the State welfare system as the government was toppled. As such, while the invasion aimed at advancing the welfare of the Iraqi people, it ended up creating an environment where the Iraqi people were subjected to significant sufferings.

Operation Iraqi Freedom led to the outbreak of civil strife in Iraq. This strife has continued for over a decade after the collapse of Saddam’s regime and at a huge cost to the Iraqi people. In spite of the many atrocities attributed to the Saddam regime, he was able to demonstrate effective control of Iraq. Under his rule, the country enjoyed peace and law and order were maintained in the country.

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Once Saddam was removed from power, the various factions in Iraq started fighting against each other. According to Zahawi, the invasion of Iraq helped create the immense civil strife that the Iraqi people currently face (2314). When Operation Iraqi Freedom toppled Saddam, the police force and military apparatus that had helped maintain peace was destroyed. The invading forces did not deploy a sufficient number of military personnel to maintain law and order after the collapse of Saddam’s regime.

The invasion of Iraq has proved to be an expensive military engagement that has cost the US billions of dollars and the death of thousands of US troops. While Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out using troops from thirty-one countries, the US provided the most significant military resources for the invasion. Most of the other countries only provided small troops meaning that the US is the major contributor. The Department of Defense reported that as of 2007, $396 billion had been used for the Iraqi war efforts (Belasco 6).

These costs are unjustifiable since the invasion has not achieved the benefits that it promised to deliver. The costs to the US continue to increase as acts of violence are perpetrated against US forces in Iraq. Webster states that while the US hoped to be seen as liberators”, many Iraqis perceived them to be foreign invaders (7). This led to resentment and in the post-war period, intensive guerrilla attacks have been carried out by Iraqis against the US forces.

Proponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom assert that the mission was successful in ending the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein and establishing democracy in Iraq. Since Saddam assumed control of Iraq in 1979, he ruled as an oppressive dictator. A key goal of Operation Iraqi Freedom was therefore to end the Ba’ath party regime of Saddam Hussein. Three weeks after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Baghdad had been conquered by the US-led forces and the US president was able to announce on May 1, 2003 that major combat operations in Iraq had ended (Webster 5).

Many Iraqis took to the streets to celebrate this new found “freedom” from the dictator who had suppressed them for decades. While it is true that the US invasion of Iraq led to the end of Saddam’s regime, this did not lead to the creation of a peaceful and democratic Iraq. Zahawi reveals that the US was fixated on “removing Saddam without plans for filling the resulting leadership void” (2318). As a result of this, no elaborate plans for the occupation were made since the primary objective was to achieve military victory against Saddam. The fall of Saddam was quickly followed by sectarian violence as the different tribes attempted to establish dominance in the country. Instead of creating a peaceful and democratic Iraq, the US-led invasion led to the creation of a volatile state marred by violence.

This paper set out to argue that the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a mistake. It began by highlighting the reasons given by the Bush Administration for the invasion. The paper then showed that Operation Iraqi Freedom was illegal since it was done without UN approval. The invasion led to a deterioration of living conditions for most Iraqis and war plunged Iraq into civil strife and violence. The paper has noted that while the invasion succeeded in destroying Saddam’s regime, this did not lead to the positive outcomes that the US had envisioned. It can therefore be presumed that Iraq would have been a more prosperous country if the brutal dictator Saddam had not been toppled by the US.

Works Cited

Belasco, Amy. The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11. Washington: Congressional Research Service, 2008. Print.

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Fisher, David and Biggar Nigel. “Was Iraq an unjust war? A debate on the Iraq war and reflections on Libya.” International Affairs 87.3(2011): 687–707.

Palka, Eugene, Galgano Francis and Corson Mark. “Operations Iraqi Freedom A Military Geographical Perspective.” The Geographical Review 95.3(2005): 373-399. Print.

Webster, Gerald. “American Nationalism, the Flag, and the Invasion of Iraq.” The Geographical Review, 101.1(2011): 1-18.

Zahawi, Hamada. “Redefining the Laws of Occupation in the Wake of Operation Iraqi ‘Freedom’.” California Law Review 95.2(2007): 2295-2352.

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